TL;DR: It's our fault. But that means we also have the power to demand better music.

It's not just you; much of pop music really does sound the same. A study done by the Spanish National Research Council produced these graphs showing the increasing loudness and decreasing timbre of pop music over time.


Many people (me included) assumed that music was getting "worse" because record labels and mega-corporations that compose The Man were making it so by pre-selecting in some dusty Hollywood or New York City boardrooms what hits would go on heavy rotation on the radio.

Little did I know that with the advent of music streaming services like Pandora and Spotify, another, more sinister force would ruin popular music. Who is to blame, you may ask?

But more specifically, all of us who use those services. Facebook Likes, iTunes purchases, Spotify listens, Shazaam searches, Pandora stations, and so on are studied by the industry's researchers. They use the data they amass on our behavior to predict the next hit as well as the kinds of songs that do well. In other words, if pop music all sounds the same now, it's because we actually like it that way.


But in that problem also lays a solution. If it is we who used our listening powers to shape what the industry offers, we may also have the power to take a stand. We can use our ears and our clicks to demand better music. Will you?

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